Coordinates: 46°30′00″N 11°20′00"
When my husband organizes our holidays, I do not interfere so I can be surprised. On this occasion, I knew we were going to a beautiful mountainous region in Italy, close to the Swiss and Austrian borders, known as Südtirol (to German speakers) or Alto Adige (to Italian speakers). I was aware that in this region they spoke two languages, but in my mind: I was going to Italy! And although I did drink good wines; to tell you the truth, the food and the cultural undertones we appreciated were not very Italian.
Austria, Italy and Germany
A political past tied to Austria, Italy and Germany colors the whole region; it even has a different name in each language. Tirol is the name of an Austrian region; Südtirol, describes this piece of land lies at the south of the Tirol. Adige is the name of a river born here; Alto Adige states this land is at the higher part of this river. I am not a history lover, but only by knowing what transpired in this region, you are able to understand its contrasts.
A brief history
Therefore, I sum it up in a few sentences. The region was a part of the Austria-Hungarian Empire until the end of 1919; after World War I, it was allocated to Italy. During this period, they tried assimilating its inhabitants, prohibiting the language and traditions of Austrian origin. Meanwhile during World War II, they tried to segregate the population, among those who felt German (who were invited to return to Germany or Austria) and those who wanted to remain as Italians.
At the end of this war, it was agreed the German speaking population would remain in Italy and its rights respected. And although separatist forces existed that wanted the reunification with Austria, in 1972, after years of negotiations, the region’s political and cultural autonomy was recognized. Today 70 % speaks German and approximately 27 % Italian, both official languages. Now, the history class is finished!
Agriturismo and gastronomy
We stayed at an Agriturismo, where we were able to speak with our hosts and understand their perspective over this historical background. They belong to the German speakers and celebrate Austrian traditions and dishes; but they feel Italian. During our day trips, we saw evidence of this shared history. I hope that my photos help me share with you, a trip that was not what I expected (remember, I thought I was going to Italy), but that absolutely, managed to surprise me.
Conscious Travel Practices:
1) Support small guest houses.
2) Know and respect the region’s history.
3) Sponsor the markets.
4) Explore destinations using public transportation.